Jonathan Fryer

Ascensor da Bica

Posted by jonathanfryer on Sunday, 21st November, 2010

The most spectacular funicular in Lisbon — often missed by tourists — is the Ascensor da Bica, which starts from inside what appears to be a normal building in the Rua de Sao Paulo west of Cais do Sodre and climbs steeply up the hillside before entering the narrow Rua da Bica de Duarte Belo, in the direction of Chiado. Built by Raoul Mesnier de Ponsard in 1892, it originally ran on steam but after a number of transformations, it was converted to electricity. A depressing amount of the tightest stretch of the route has been covered in graffiti and the station at the bottom was blaring loud American pop music when I took the tram earlier this week. But it still has plenty of atmosphere. There’s a little metal fence and gate in the bottom station which the driver of the tram has to open to let passengers in, ceremoniously closing up when it is time to leave. The service runs every 10 to 20 minutes. My fellow passengers were local pensioners, not surprisingly daunted by the alternative of walking up one of the steepest of Lisbon’s hills. The service is run by the city’s public transport service Carris, and therefore costs the same as buses and other routes: 1.45 euro (at the time of writing), or else included in day tickets, season ticketsĀ or other promotions.

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